Sunday, May 13, 2007

What else can I break on a bike?

I knew something was wrong - the sharp metallic 'ka-ching' sounds didn't happen all the time - usually only at max power from a slow start - but the empty, echoic sort of rattly noise was a real concern. Strangely, I could make it go away if I pedalled backwards... hmmm. What could it be? Something in the rear hub, or somewhere else in the drivetrain? I looked in vain, but of course as it was all working fine (other than the come and go noises) I didn't look inside the hub. I assumed it just needed lubing. But no, it was actually breaking.

Luckily it let go at the end of a 40km lap of Brisbane Water, after one final effort up my local hill. It just quietly stopped. I knew it was all over, as I was suddenly freewheeling in my driveway, even when I was pedalling. Without looking I knew that I had I had broken the pawls (or the springs?) that are meant to engage when pedalling forward, rendering my 9 speed a freewheeler in both directions...

It's time for an audit. Excluding bones and teeth, what have I broken (not just punctured or worn out) in roughly 31 years of bike riding? First off, my brother's mirrors. Didn't like 'em anyway and they made a mess when you rubbed them on the road at 30kmh. (It was his bike, but hey, they just weren't cool). Then I snapped my first spoke. First of many. It taught me to carry a spoke key, at least. Later I snapped the bolt that holds seat to seat post. I rode 60km with a saddle just hanging - literally - on that post. Which is to say I rode 60km out of the saddle. Great training.

I also snapped the expanding bolt inside the headtube, the one that was meant to keep handlebars and front wheel aligned and steerable. Let me tell you it makes a mess of the steering feel if that one lets go (luckily they make 'em differently now, eh?). I haven't snapped a chain - yet - but a mate did. Not pretty. And I saw some handlebars snap on a track bike - they let go at the stem, so he still had one handlebar that "worked".

After years of perfect gear changing I managed to finally put my rear derailleur into my back wheel - just 30m from home. That bends some bits and breaks others with a satisfying tinkling sound. And I've snapped a few brake and gear cables, too. With a snapped rear derailleur cable you get to experience your smallest cog, irrespective of terrain. (OK, ok, I wasn't actually maintaining that bike at all. And I had stopped using it on the road, too! It's 'old rusty', my Hopkins crit bike that now sits on an indoor trainer - outdoors, of course.)

I have also managed to break the bolt that holds the seat tube to the frame, too. The seat slowly slides down into the frame... luckily I only had to ride out of the saddle for 20km that time. I've broken wheels, but everyone's done that. And as I've shown you previously, I managed to snap my seat post. So it's only natural that I've now broken a freehub. I mean, what else is there to break? Oh yeah, the frame... hmmm.

P.S., I dented a steel frame once - does that count?

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